Greece has begun relocating unaccompanied minors from overcrowded migrant camps to volunteer nations, international media reported. The European nation has been hosting over 5,000 unaccompanied children, majorly of Syrian and Afghan descent. Last week, Greece was asked by international organisations to release all children who were living in filthy refugee camps and flats.
Greek officials plan to relocate nearly 1,600 children to other volunteer nations as coronavirus pandemic tightens its grip over Greece. According to reports, the first 12 children, aged between 11 to 15, were moved to Luxembourg from refugee camps on the islands of Lesbos, Samos, and Chios. International media reported that they had a sendoff at the Athens airport, where Greek ministers gave them Soveigneers before they were welcomed by Luxembourg foreign minister on the other end. These children were then sent directly to a 14-day quarantine facility from the airport.
According to Greece’s deputy migration minister Giorgos Koumoutsakos, another set of 50 vulnerable children would be sent to Germany and 20 would fly to Switzerland on April 19. This comes as Human Rights Watch had called on Greece to release all the asylum-seeking refugees in the country. Eva Cosse, the Greece researcher for the organisation said that keeping children locked up in filthy police cells was always wrong, but now it also exposes them to the risk of COVID-19 infection.
As of April 16, Greece has reported 2,192 out of which 102 have died and 269 have recovered. According to reports, there are about 100,000 asylum seekers in Greece, most of whom are in camps, hotel rooms and flats. Camps on the Aegean islands suffer the worst overcrowding, with fewer than 6,100 places for more than 36,000 people. The island nation reportedly announced a three-week extension to its coronavirus lockdown to April 27. "Difficult weeks lie ahead... If we relax our efforts, the virus will destroy us," Nikos Hardalias, deputy minister for civil protection, told a daily briefing.
(Image Credits: AP)